When I was 19, I tested for a job as a dispatcher. The recorded phone caller on the other end screamed at me about a baby and her address and the phone went dead. I was asked what I remembered, and it wasn’t much.
This same phone call happened on Friday morning, only, it wasn’t pre-recorded and it was one of my front gals at the restaurant. I heard screaming, and could only comprehend that Whitey was on the floor, not breathing, bleeding…
and I froze.
I loudly told Freebird to CALM DOWN! over and over again, and asked if she knew CPR. No, she said. Is he breathing now? Yes, she said, and he’s still out cold on the floor. I told her to call 911 (which Courtney had already done) and that I’d be there as fast as I could.
I immediately called Kristen to pick me up. My truck was covered in snow and ice, and it would take longer to get it mobile than for her to come and get me. I was shaking uncontrollably.
I was waiting outside when she pulled up — with a fully flat back tire. She had no idea. We quickly scraped the windows of my truck and I somehow stayed calm enough to drive to the restaurant. An ambulance was already out front.
It was awful.
Whitey was in a daze, and didn’t know what was going on. He refused to listen to the paramedics, getting physical at times. I tried to talk him down, but he insisted on making a phone call with his cell phone. I watched as he pulled my name up and called me. He had no idea that I was standing in front of him.
I had Kristen get my phone out of the truck and answered the phone. Whitey asked me to come in to work, and I said “I’ll be right there.”
Yet even as I pretended to arrive again, he continued this cycle of calling me and asking me to come to work. The much larger paramedics and the police officer told me that they were going to have to physically restrain him on the gurney, as almost 15 minutes had passed. Whitey continued to fight them off, yelling and being combative.
Somehow, I was able to talk to Whitey on the phone while I was out of sight and was able calm him down. I told him that we needed to go take a few photos at the hospital, but we’d go right home afterward and watch a movie together with the dogs. He went from Mortal Combat to meek in just minutes, so I kept repeating this mantra over and over again.
We were able to get him in an ambulance and off to the hospital. I stayed on my cell phone, sitting behind him, repeating the same thing about going home and Max and Barkley and Movies and Snowboarding and Dinner. It was heart-wrenching to watch him so disoriented and in pain. He had no idea who I was when I was in sight, but kept his cell phone glued to his ear for my voice.
After two CT scans and an incredibly painful spinal tap, the doctors were unable to figure out the cause of his seizure and ordered a life flight to a larger hospital in Boise. Life Flight. And we leave in 20 minutes.
Absolutely terrified at this point, and knowing that the CT scan showed a major skull fracture, I had to talk myself down into a calmer state. Nothing, nothing can happen to this man. I need to stay calm.
Kristen ran to my house and packed a bag as fast as she could for us, and barely made it back before they were loading him onto a helicopter.
As we flew over Paizano’s, it was an eerie feeling. I saw our home, and wondered about the dogs. My phone was nearly dead, and I sent a quick text to Kristen to be sure to take care of them.
Our flight was cut in half, as the fog was too dense to land in Boise. We transferred to an ambulance in Caldwell and drove another 30 minutes to St. Alphonsus.
The medical story from here is to be expected. Lots of needles, an IV was hooked up, many drugs and “how many fingers am I holding up?” questions. Hours of poking and prodding and numerous different faces all asking the same questions.
Whitey was admitted, and we finally were transferred to a private room late at night. I realized that I hadn’t eaten or drank anything all day, and found a 24-hour Subway in the lobby. Awesome.
After eating, I curled up next to him on his bed for a short time listening to the pain in his breathing, and finally pulled the sofa next to him to sleep on. It was like sleeping on a firm life vest; those old orange ones found in ferry boats.
So here I sit. We’re still waiting on a neurologist to show up and do some sort of brain scan with electrodes to look for something or other. Hurry up and wait. I continue to watch the clock to ask for another pain pill for Whitey every four hours, even though the pill only lasts about two hours.
The crew at the restaurant have assured me that they have it under control; rearranging the schedule, figuring out who is going to make dough, etc.
I’ll blog on his progress again, and in the meantime…
give out a few extra hugs today to your family.